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  • Isabelle Morley, PsyD

Penelope from Bridgerton Might Lose Colin (And Maybe She Should)

When should Penelope disclose her Lady Whistledown secret to Colin, and can their relationship survive it?

Source: Antonio_Diaz/iStock

Spoiler Alert!

This post will discuss plot points from the first four episodes of the Season 3 of Bridgerton. If you haven't seen it, you may want to watch it first and read this after.

Podcast Alert!

Did you know that I have a new podcast with my amazing co-host and dating expert Kira Sabin? In RomCom Rescue we break down the love lessons from your favorite romcoms and, you guessed it, we're analyzing Bridgerton! If you want more great content about this movie, head over to your favorite podcast platform to listen to RomCom Rescue's to hear our analysis!

Romance of the Season: Penelope and Colin

The first half of Bridgerton’s third season has been released, and there is so much to discuss. Based on Julia Quinn’s novels, the series follows the Bridgerton family and other members of Britain's high society as they search for a spouse. This season, we follow the friends-to-lovers courtship of Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlin).

The first four episodes end on a romantic high - seeing Colin admit his feelings to Penelope and a shared intimate moment in a carriage. (Side note: can the men of Bridgerton stop risking women’s reputations with these trysts? Passion can be hard to restrain, but this men all know the significant damage it could do for women during this era. But I digress.) After four hours of will-they-or-won’t-they, with the fear that Penelope will accept an engagement with the naturalist Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), Colin and Penelope finally find each other and earn their relationship name: Polin. A love match, just as Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) encourages all of her children to find.

However, it’s hard to be elated at the end of this episode when we know that Penelope has a significant secret that could upend her budding romance and promise of marriage. Penelope is none other than Lady Whistledown, the mystery woman behind the gossip column that the Bridgerton ton loves to consume. Colin’s younger sister Eloise (Claudia Jessie) knows this, but Colin is in the dark.

It begs the question: should Penelope tell Colin she’s Lady Whistledown? And if yes, when?

Should Penelope Tell Colin?

This is an easy one to answer. Yes, Penelope should tell Colin. Although it’s admittedly a huge risk to do so given that she would get into some real reputational trouble (perhaps more than that, depending on how the queen feels), he deserves to know the truth if they’re going to enter into the binding lifelong commitment of marriage.

Secrets have a way of coming out in relationships. A great example is affairs; many people try to hide infidelity and yet their partner always seems to discover it. In romantic relationships, we become highly attuned to the other person, making us able to track changes in moods or behavioral patterns that could indicate something is amiss. Penelope would not be able to hide her writing forever, and it would be far worse for Colin to find out by accident than if she were to be forthright with him.

The biggest reason she needs to tell Colin is that the gossip column personally attacked him several times, along with other people he cared about (Lady Crane and his sister being among them). This is no small secret Penelope is keeping; Colin has been personally affected by the Lady Whistledown papers. Her deceit runs deep; not only is she hiding that she is the author, but she is lying and concealing truths each time she pretends to react to what's written. Make no mistake: When Colin discovers that the damage done in the last seasons was actually done by Penelope’s hand, he will be furious, and it could very well be the end of their engagement.

Colin doesn’t mince his words when it comes to his feelings about Lady Whistledown. He tells Penelope, “Sooner or later, she will be caught, and we will dance on the day of her demise.” He will certainly want to know if he's about to marry a person for whom he has such strongly negative feelings.

When Should Penelope Tell Colin?

The next question is, when should Penelope disclose her secret to Colin? Again, an easy answer: immediately. Colin has professed his feelings for Penelope, kissed her, and essentially proposed. The last episode leaves off with him asking Penelope to come into his house under the premise of them announcing their engagement. She should intervene and disclose this secret before he publicly shares the news of their nuptials.

Penelope should ensure Colin fully understands who she is before going any further in a relationship. The truth may very well end things between them, and he has the right to know her secret before agreeing to a lifelong bond. It would also save them the humiliation of retracting their engagement.

Should she have told him sooner? I personally don't think so. But that changed once Penelope and Colin's relationship turned romantic. Keeping an important part of your identity hidden from your spouse will create problems, and he'd surely find out on his own eventually. She was obligated to tell him the truth as soon as he professed his feelings and kissed her. Unless, of course, she'd rather end their engagement and keep her secret protected. This is the other option, and one we might see Penelope choose.

Will Polin Survive the Disclosure?

Penelope and Colin's friendship has great potential to blossom into a beautiful marriage, but Penelope has been outing every member of the ton in her gossip column, and there will be consequences for that, which may include losing Colin. Her desire to write and have more freedom than women are allowed in this era pushed her into a tough corner, where she now has a secret to disclose to the man she loves, one that will deeply hurt and anger him.

Don’t despair, though. Although sharing these types of secrets can be relationship-ending, they don’t always have that effect. Like with infidelity, some people can work through significant ruptures of trust. Healing from this will be slightly easier if Penelope is the one to tell Colin (as opposed to him finding out another way, like from Eloise), and if Penelope is willing to apologize, atone, and repair over time. She may also have to give up her pen as part of that repair, but we'll see what happens when the next four episodes are released on June 13th!


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